Recording an Album | Mixing Vs. Mastering

Recording an Album | Mixing Vs. Mastering

September 13, 2019 4 By Kailee Schamberger


When you’re working with a band, is
there a favorite part of the session that you have? Is there something you really look forward to
every time. Typically, to me there’s like little
peaks you know? The first peak is when you start pushing the faders up and you
start hearing the sounds and they’re all awesome. And it’s like, this is gonna sound
good! So there’s that one you know and then you get into the work and then you sort of get into sort of a work mode you know? But then, at the end the day you’ve achieved 3 or 4 basic tracks and you feel really good. I mean for
me it’s like super emotional based on what I’m hearing you know? Right. So every time we reach some kind of sonic peak I start feeling good. It’s
almost like a physical sensation and I think I feel that way about mixes too. It’s
really funny about mixes, there’s a point where it gels and it’s like “ooh” you know?
I mean, it probably really is some sort of like neuron reaction that I can feel you know? So those
are the good parts. Yeah. So one big question I think our artists might
have is, what mixing is. Is there any way you can give us a
layman’s description of what you think the process of mixing really does for a
song. Basically what you’re doing is you’re just making a pleasant sound and the pleasant sound is the volumes of
things, and the tonalities, and the sense of space, and location, and predominance
of one sound over another. All this is achieved with these
nuts-and-bolts devices, but what you’re going for is a psychological effect. Right. You have to make a sort of hyper
vivid thing for recording. You know when you walk into a band’s
rehearsal space it’s kind of amazing sounding because it’s so loud. Right? But a
record has to work at tiny volumes and maybe make you feel
like it’s loud you know that’s a whole different kettle-off-fish and that’s where mixing gets
kind of interesting. I wondered if you could maybe speak a
little bit about what mastering is, what it does, kind of, you know, your thoughts on it. So
the number one consideration really was to make records where in people’s houses the needle wouldn’t
jump out of the groove. Because if the needle jumped out of the groove, the people would bring their records back and want their money back and so that couldn’t happen. So mastering developed you know
techniques to start to control really loud peaks
and things like that that would tend to cause the needle to jump out of the groove you know? and so that’s where it started to become a
little bit creative and really what it comes down to is that it’s a little bit
different perception because if you’re mixing the record or you’re making the
record you’re very much aware of all the little pieces in it. The mastering person, you know, theoretically has never heard this before and can hear it as a whole which is kind of a useful
perspective. And that’s where I think that that extra step is still really
useful. There’s nothing to stop you now from at
the minute you finish your mix immediately making a CD out of that,
putting it on the Internet, or cutting a vinyl record. There’s nothing to
stop you from doing that. But, I do think that one more listen you know in between those two
stages is still really good, but it can also be wrong so you have to
be smart about your mastering person and
and you have to be willing to listen to what they do and comment on it. So you’re trying to shape the record as a whole at the last stage as opposed to mixing we’re taking individual pieces
and putting them…Well that’s true, I mean of course you might just master a song.
Somebody might do a club mix and you get that club mix mastered. You know you can do that, but yes in so
many situations that’s right, the mastering thing is the thing that looks at it as a whole.
So one of the obvious things that you take of right there is getting the volume from one song to the next to
be a right. Right. Sometimes psychologically you just need to adjust that a little bit you
know? That kind of thing. Or, sometimes you know
because you might, you know, you’ll spend a whole day mixing a song, so
on one day you might just tend to mix a little brighter, the next day you might
tend to mix a little bassier and to sort of even that out is sometimes good. You know, subtle
stuff. Right. But all those little subtle things do add up and, you know, the master record should
always sound a little better than what you were finished with before you did
that. If a band asked you “do we need to get this record mastered,” you would probably say yes? I would probably say yes. You know I just
appreciate the expertise of the mastering engineers and I appreciate the, like I was saying, the perspective they have that’s different, but it is not actually required. Right.